Tag Archives: Sleep Training

From Waking Every 2 Hours to Sleeping Through The Night! Hear Gerry’s Story.

You might remember that at the end of last year, we featured some very special content here on The Baby Sleep Site® blog. We featured three real families, just like yours – families who spent months struggling with sleepless babies and toddlers. They are families who approached The Baby Sleep Site® for personalized baby sleep help, and who worked one-on-one with our team of consultants. And now, Julie, Ali, and Ilana (and their families) are sleeping peacefully!

Gerry&Yvette300x300Well, to say the response was overwhelmingly positive would be putting it mildly. ;) Many of our readers let us know that they loved hearing stories about real families solving their sleep problems. And so, in the spirit of giving our readers what they want — the Family Features are back!

Today, we are presenting a truly wonderful story. And it comes to us all the way from Bulgaria (because baby sleep problems do not discriminate)! Meet Gerry and her adorable little girl, Yvette. (Seriously, look at that little face – so sweet!) Gerry came to The Baby Sleep Site® for help when Yvette was 10 months old. At that time, Yvette was still breastfeeding every 2 hours, round the clock – and Gerry was understandably exhausted! But, with the help of Nicole and Shaye, Gerry was able to improve Yvette’s sleep while maintaining her breastfeeding goals. It was a big win for everyone!

Here’s Gerry’s story…

 
The Baby Sleep Site: Hi, Gerry! Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your situation when you first approached us for baby sleep help.

Gerry: “Before I got help from The Baby Sleep Site, my daughter was 10 months old and was still breastfeeding every 2 hours, day and night. She was also waking every 40-90 minutes throughout the night, like an atomic clock! Back then, there were many days when she wouldn’t nap at all, or would just take two or three 15-minute naps for the entire day. And even then, she would nap only in my arms or while resting in the sling. Back then, I would put her to sleep often after 10 p.m., and she would fall asleep only while breastfeeding or being rocked for an hour. As a result of all this, I had a breakdown. I was so exhausted.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Oh, Gerry. :( I’m so sorry you went through this! No wonder you fell apart; 10 months without a full night’s sleep will break anyone! You must have felt like you were at your wit’s end – and like you were so alone.

Gerry: “I did. Many people said, ‘This too shall pass’, and that I just had to ride it out and wait until Yvette’s second birthday when all babies finally start sleeping well. We even took our daughter to three different doctors, and after all the blood tests and examinations, they just shrugged their shoulders and told me that there was no physical reason why she should be waking so often and sleeping so little. In fact, one doctor actually suggested that we treat Yvette with a medicine with sedating effect in order to achieve better sleep, even though he agreed that she was perfectly healthy. Some people, including this doctor, blamed my breast milk for Yvette’s sleeplessness. But I didn’t want to medicate my baby, and I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding.”

The Baby Sleep Site: WOW. This probably made you feel even worse, right? Not only are you hearing from three different medical professionals that there’s no reason for your daughter’s sleeplessness, you are also being made to feel like her constant waking might actually be your fault!

Gerry: “Yes! As a final resort, I turned to Google, and asked, ‘What to do when a baby wakes every 40 minutes at night?’ That’s how I landed on the Baby Sleep Site. After reading a few blog posts, I purchased a Personalized Sleep Plan™.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Woohoo! I’ll bet you were excited to finally take steps towards solving Yvette’s sleep problems once and for all. :) Tell us a little bit about how your consultation started, Gerry.

Gerry: “I received my plan, and I was so happy to see that the strategies Shaye laid out to solve my daughter’s sleep problems were simple and divided into ‘baby steps’. I especially loved the ‘Day By Day’ section! It was also great that Shaye explained the reasoning behind each method. And I really loved that The Baby Sleep Site does treat every family according to their specific situation and needs.”

The Baby Sleep Site: Yes! We are so committed to that idea, that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all sleep training. Okay, now because I know our readers will be curious, I need to ask – how did things go once you started implementing the plan?

Gerry: “With Shaye’s help, our beloved baby finally understood that sleeping actually feels good – and now she wakes up happy! Within a few weeks,Yvette decreased the night wakings from around ten per night to less thanYvette300x350 three. Her naps lengthened, and for the first time, she napped for more than 35-40 minutes. And through it all, I kept on breastfeeding – something Shaye encouraged me to continue doing! As a result of getting the sleep she needed, Yvette became a much happier baby, and I finally felt myself coming back to my senses. This may sound extreme, but I really feel that Shaye’s understanding, and the Personalized Sleep Plan she prepared for us, saved our lives.”

The Baby Sleep Site: We get it – getting that plan in your e-mail inbox really does feel like you are being thrown a life line, doesn’t it? Gerry, we couldn’t be happier for you. It sounds like you and Yvette are finally (finally!) getting the sleep you need. And because of that, your quality of life sounds much better!

Gerry: “That’s right. Yvette is 18 months now, and thanks to Shaye and Nicole’s priceless help, she has established healthy sleep habits and we all cherish the moments before bedtime and naptime. The team at The Baby Sleep Site gave us a real miracle!”

The Baby Sleep Site: Honestly, stories like yours make the hard work worth it! Okay, Gerry, before we wrap up this interview – any last words for our readers?

Gerry: “I can’t end without saying one more thank you! Thank you again, Shaye and Nicole, for your knowledge, support, and understanding! We all learned to sleep better at home thanks to your guidance. Keep on doing miracles for all the tired families in need!”"

 
There you have it, readers. Even if your 10 month old baby is waking every 2 hour around the clock, and nursing for less than 30 minutes at a time, even if your baby is has to be fed and held and rocked to sleep all the time – you can solve your little one’s sleep problems! Gerry was facing some big sleep challenges, but with the help of The Baby Sleep Site (and through lots of hard work on her part), Gerry helped Yvette overcome her sleep associations and learn to fall sleep on her own.

And you can do the same. Really! In fact, our trained sleep consultants are ready and waiting to help you do just that. So why not take the first step today, and begin your journey to better sleep as early as tonight?

Click here to learn how you can get one-on-one help from a trained sleep consultant like Shaye.

Want to know more about how our system of personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Have sleep training questions of your own? Ask away!

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Your Holiday Sleep Training Checklist

Holiday Sleep Training ChecklistHoliday break is upon us, readers! That is, it’s upon those of us who actually get some vacation time around Christmas. (And I sincerely hope that most of you do!)

If the holidays mean some extra time off for you — AND if you happen to have a sleepless baby or toddler at home — your break may present a great time to work on sleep.

That’s exactly why we’ve created this checklist for you. Here are 5 suggestions as to what you can be working on, sleep-wise, over your holiday vacation.

Your 5-Point Sleep Training Checklist

  1. Work on improving your bedtime routine (if it needs work). To be effective, bedtime routines should be fairly short (~10-15 minutes, longer for spirited children), and should consist of a few quiet, relaxing activities that signal to your baby or toddler that sleep is right around the corner. Your bedtime routine should also happen at about the same time each night.
  2. Work on reducing (or eliminating) night wakings. The age for babies to sleep 8-10 straight hours per night varies greatly. However, expect many babies to be sleeping through the night without feedings by about 9 or 10 months, and most babies by 12 months. By 6 months, your baby should be once or twice per night, and by 8 months, your baby should be feeding just once per night, on average.
  3. Work on getting into a consistent nap and feeding schedule during the day. Consistency is key in creating healthy sleep habits, so work towards a schedule in which meals and naps are happening at roughly the same time each day. You’ll need at least a few days at home to practice this – and holiday break presents a nice opportunity to do just that! :)
  4. Work on shifting your child’s schedule (if it’s out of sync). If your baby or toddler is waking too early, or going to bed too late, or is perhaps napping too much and not sleeping well at night — these are all problems that can be fixed. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle shift to the schedule (shortening naps, moving bedtime up by 30 minutes, etc.) to correct an out-of-whack schedule.
  5. Work on making sure your baby or toddler is getting enough sleep (if you suspect he isn’t getting enough). Not sure if your baby or toddler is getting enough sleep? You can keep a sleep log for a few weeks, to determine what your little one’s average sleep total is. Then, compare that to the recommended averages. 4 month old babies need anywhere between 12 and 16 hours of sleep per day. From 6 – 12 months, those sleep averages drop to between 12 and 15 hours per day. By the time your little one is a toddler, she’ll need anywhere from 11 – 15 hours of sleep per day.

Will you be working on sleep over the holidays? Tell us your plan!

Are sleepless nights and interrupted naps the unwelcome guests in your home this holiday season? Let us help you make it a merrier Christmas and a happier New Year!

  • Need more sleep training resources? We have a ton! Browse our list of e-books and e-book packages, designed to help your baby, toddler, or newborn develop better sleeping habits. We even have a book that’s designed just for parents who want to work on naps! These are perfect solutions for parents who want to sleep train on their own, but need more information.
  • Want Unlimited Access to ALL Our Products? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice!.
  • Need Personalized Help? For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.
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Get To Know The Families Behind Some Of 2013s Most Amazing Sleep Success Stories!

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Over the past few weeks, we have shone a spotlight on a few of our very own Baby Sleep Site families. These are families just like yours – families who spent months struggling with sleepless babies and toddlers. They are families who approached The Baby Sleep Site for personalized baby sleep help, and who worked one-on-one with our team of consultants. And now, they are families that are sleeping peacefully!

Meet Ilana Collison, and Hear Her Story

Readers, meet Ilana Collison. Ilana lives in North Dakota, but when she originally came to us for help, she had just moved to the U.S., from the U.K. And as if an international move weren’t stressful enough – she did it with a baby who just refused to sleep!

Once Ilana and her family were settled in the States, she contacted us for help with her son Tyler’s sleep. Here’s her story…

The Baby Sleep Site: Ilana, tell us a little bit about Tyler’s sleep history.

Ilana: Tyler was one of those babies who just resisted sleep. It was a bit of aIlana Collison4 joke amongst some of my mummy friends, how Tyler was such a poor sleeper. I often heard, “And I thought mine was bad! I can’t believe he’s been up all day and won’t sleep”. Yep, believe it! And he wouldn’t sleep at night time either. When he did, he woke up multiple times.

Now, before Tyler was born, I had accepted that my own hours of sleep were going to be few and far between. I knew that having a newborn, and then moving to a new country when he was just 3 months old, was going to be challenging. I just wasn’t prepared for the toll that it really took.

The Baby Sleep Site: That’s understandable – there’s probably no good way to adequately prepare for something like that! So once you were settled in the U.S., what happened?

Ilana: Once we got settled into our new house, Tyler was 6 months old, and we were ready to have him sleep in his crib, in his own room. Apparently, however, he wasn’t! At that point, I began scouring the internet for information.

At first, I didn’t find anything helpful. Yes, I had a bedtime routine. Yes, we were consistent, but things were just getting worse and worse, and I really felt like Tyler was suffering. I believe that sleep is so important for a baby’s development, and Tyler wasn’t getting anywhere near what he needed. He was grumpy, and his happy mood started to change for the worse.

I can’t convey how bad things had become, surviving on so little sleep for such a long time. And Tyler himself had become so challenging. I loved my son, but things were dismal. My relationship with my husband had become strained, too. One day, I just cried, and cried, and cried. It just all got to be too much.

The Baby Sleep Site: Oh, Ilana – that must’ve been so hard. We know lots of parents who’ve been in that same position – all the exhaustion and sleep deprivation catches up to them, and they finally break down. What did you do then?

Ilana: Ilana Collison3At that point, I had already come across The Baby Sleep Site. So, I waited for my husband to get home from work, and then I literally begged him to sign us up for a Baby Sleep Site consultation package. I was of course skeptical to be parting with money for advice online, but with SO many positive testimonials, I figured it surely had to work. Not only that, but I sensed a real empathy and compassion from reading Nicole’s weekly newsletter, and I just felt that this was going to work for us. And I knew that I had it in me to stick to a schedule. I just needed some pointers and support.

The Baby Sleep Site: So after you purchased your package – what happened then?

Ilana: I wrote up our family history, for Amber (my sleep consultant) to use. Even just writing out the sleep history helped me feel better – it’s like I was emptying my mind of all the issues and putting them into e-mail form. From that moment, I started to feel like there was hope. And then there was – an e-mail from Amber, with our family’s Personalized Sleep Plan™ attached! It was like a ray of light!

The Baby Sleep Site: And what did you think, reading through the plan?

Ilana: The sleep schedule was detailed, and it provided insight and options, as well as room for tweaking to suit our needs as well as Tyler’s. Amber even preempted what Tyler may do in response to the plan. That surprised me – I knew what he would do, but how did she? How could someone who had never met my son know him so well? I honestly couldn’t read the Personalized Sleep Plan™ fast enough! Not only was it informative and clear, but it was positive and encouraging – all the things I knew I needed to get started.

The Baby Sleep Site: Okay, Illana, this is the all-important question: once you started implementing the plan, did it work?

Ilana: Tyler responded to the new routine really well! Within about 4 days of putting the plan into action at home, we saw a significant change. My baby was actually taking naps during the day and sleeping better at night! No, it wasn’t perfect right away. But he did pick up his new routine so quickly.

Ilana Collison copySoon after that, Tyler slept through the night for the first time. I remember lying awake at 4 a.m., wondering if he was okay, and if the baby monitor was working! But of course, nothing was wrong; he was just fast asleep, and enjoying his crib! Now, Tyler doesn’t sleep through the night perfectly every night, but in the main, he does. And now, if he does wake up, we know exactly what to do, and so does he! Now that Tyler is finally getting the sleep he needs, my husband and I are, too. Now, everything about our family is different, and I am starting to feel like my old self.

I should say that I don’t for a minute think our help here is done! We just weren’t blessed that way, with an ‘easy’ baby. This is merely ‘au revoir’ for now, as we shall no doubt be in contact with you again soon (but hopefully not too soon!)

The Baby Sleep Site: We’ll keep an eye out for your e-mail, Ilana! ;) Before we wrap things up – any final words you want to offer our readers?

Ilana: I have no reservations about recommending this service – in fact, I’ve done so a number of times already! To Amber and the entire Baby Sleep Site team: thank you for a most wonderful service. Your patience, humour, and quality advice have been second to none and are worth every penny!

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You heard Ilana’s story – now, we want to hear yours! Tell us your sleep training story in the comments section below!

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Meet Ali Koch, and Hear Her Story

Readers, meet Allison Koch. Ali lives in Pennsylvania and is mom to little Noelle. Noelle was a great sleeper – that is, until the 4 month sleep regression hit! That’s when Ali contacted The Baby Sleep Site® for help. Here’s her story…

The Baby Sleep Site: Ali, tell our readers a little bit about Noelle’s sleep history.

Ali: My daughter was sleeping through the night by the time she was 3 months old, and she slept great from 3-4 months. Right around 4.5 months, however, she started waking up in the middle of the night again, and so I nursed her back to sleep.

From then on, she was waking up at least 2, 3, or 4 times a night, and would remain awake for an hour and a half to two hours at a time! My husband and I took turns some nights, and we were extremely frustrated! I felt like I was going through the newborn stage all over again.

The Baby Sleep Site: Wow, you must’ve been exhausted! So how did you come across The Baby Sleep Site, and at what point did you decide to get personalized help?

Ali: I came to across the Baby Sleep Site in a Google search – I was searching for baby schedules and sleeping habits. I had already read MANY different books and theories about how to help my baby sleep better, so I decided to look into the site.

Ali Koch-1At first, I questioned the things I read on the site, and whether or not they actually worked. I was also skeptical about paying money to have someone help me after I felt like I had already tried everything on my own.

Finally, when my daughter was 9 months old, I sent a general email inquiring about which services would be best for our family. I was still EXTREMELY skeptical, and I really didn’t think they would offer me any advice that I hadn’t already tried or read about. But after about another three weeks of trying other methods, I finally gave in, paid the money, and begged for help!

The Baby Sleep Site: No problem; we’ve worked with skeptics before! ;) So tell us – what happened after you bought your consultation package?

Ali: I got my Personalized Sleep Plan™ from Nicole very quickly – and it was awesome! The plan was extremely thorough and very helpful.

The Baby Sleep Site: And once you started implementing the sleep plan at home, what happened? How did things go?

Ali: I’ll admit, the first week was difficult. My daughter was not as consistent as I’d hoped she’d be. But through many e-mails back and forth with Nicole, we continued to tweak the plan so that it suited my daughter. And I’m happy to say that, after the first week, she was only waking once or twice a night, and falling back to sleep VERY easily – within ten minutes!

The Baby Sleep Site: Awesome! Glad to hear you stuck with it and made the necessary changes to your plan. How did Noelle’s progress continue after that first week, and how is she sleeping now?

Ali: Two or three weeks into using the plan, she was starting to sleep much more consistently. Within a month, she was going to bed each night at around 7 p.m. and sleeping until 7 a.m., with two good naps during the day. She would still occasionally wake up between 4 or 5 a.m., but honestly, she progressed by leaps and bounds during the time, thanks to Nicole’s help!

Noelle is now 20 months, and she’s still sleeping so much better than she used to. She now takes one nap in the afternoon, and usually sleeps 11 hours, straight through the night. Every once in awhile, if she is sick or teething, she’ll wake up, but it’s okay, because she’s able to fall back to sleep on her own.

The Baby Sleep Site: That’s some impressive progress – from waking 4 times a night, for one or two hours at a time, down to no night wakings — and in just a few weeks! We’re so happy for you and your family, Ali. :) Any final words for our readers?

Ali: We are so blessed and happy we came across this site, and that we went with this service! I highly recommend it!!

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You heard Ali’s story – now, we want to hear yours! Tell us your sleep training story in the comments section below!

 
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Meet Julie Phillips, and Hear Her Story

Readers, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Julie Phillips. A mom of two little girls, Julie lives in Maryland. She came to us for help when her second daughter was just a few months old. Here’s Julie’s story…

The Baby Sleep Site: So, Julie, tell us a bit about your family’s sleep history.

Julie: I had many sleep struggles with my older daughter. In fact, when my older daughter was a baby, I had even hired a local sleep consultant to help with her sleep problems. It didn’t go well – the consultant’s approach was too harsh, and it went against my instincts as a parent.

I didn’t want to repeat any of that with my younger daughter. However, I did want to get my baby off on the right foot, and help her know how to self-soothe at a young age.

The Baby Sleep Site: That’s understandable! So, is that why you reached out to The Baby Sleep Site for help?

Julie: Julie PhillipsYes. I initially discovered this site while looking at sleep articles online. I began getting the free newsletters and reading through the articles on the site. At that time, my second daughter was only 3 months old and was not a particularly difficult sleeper. But again, I really wanted to start her off on the right foot, after my experiences with my older daughter.

I wanted to sleep train, but I wanted to do something gentle that fit with my parenting style and with my baby’s temperament (which I now know is the key to implementing a successful sleep strategy!) And so, when my daughter was 4 months old, I decided to do a consultation with Nicole’s team of sleep consultants.

The Baby Sleep Site: And we’re so glad you did! :) Tell us – what were your first impressions of the consultation process?

Julie: Well, to begin with, I was surprised at how quickly I received my plan. I submitted my daughter’s sleep history, and within just a few days, I received a really detailed, 20-page plan from Amy (my sleep consultant) for nights and naps.

At first, as I looked through the plan, I felt nervous to start. My baby had been co-sleeping, she needed to be swaddled in order to sleep, and she had to have a pacifier every night. I just wasn’t sure how we were going to wean her away from all of that!

But I did start – and I followed the plan to the letter, asking Amy for clarification along the way. I received lots of helpful e-mails from her in response (many of which she wrote at no additional charge to me – thanks, Amy!)

The Baby Sleep Site: Good for you! And now that you’ve had some time to use that plan, and to reflect, tell us – did it work?

Julie: I’m happy to say that just a few nights after we started implementing our Personalized Sleep Plan™ (nights with VERY minimal crying, I might add!), my little girl learned how to sleep all night in her crib, unswaddled, without a pacifier, and only needing to wake once or twice during the night for feedings! It was amazing!!

Amy was there every step of the way, of course, to support me through the process. She was so supportive and encouraging as we worked together – she never made me feel like I was bothering her with my questions.

Honestly, the Personalized Sleep Plan™ has been nothing short of a miracle. It gave me the details I needed to be successful in sleep training, as well as the confidence I needed to actually carry it through and stay consistent. It was worth ever penny I spent on it — and truly, it’s a FRACTION of the cost of most other sleep consultants!

The Baby Sleep Site: Woohoo! We love stories like yours, Julie. So, now that your consultation is done, and that your little girls are sleeping well, tell us – how would you summarize your experience with The Baby Sleep Site?

Julie: The individualized attention, support, warmth, and understanding that I received during my consultation with The Baby Sleep Site was truly amazing. I cannot say enough good things about Nicole, her team, and her site. The access to all the free resources, as well as the affordable sleep packages, are truly a gift. I feel lucky to have found this site, because after just one short week of work, my whole family is now happy and rested! And there was so little crying involved – it was truly worth it. I have already recommended this site to several of my friends – and I’ll continue to do so!

The Baby Sleep Site: Well, thanks, Julie. :) Any last words for our readers?

Julie: The bottom line is this: Nicole’s team will do whatever it takes, and whatever you need, to ensure you get your child (or children) the rest they need. They gave me my sanity and my life back – and they can do it for you!

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You heard Julie’s story – now, we want to hear yours! Tell us your sleep training story in the comments section below!

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How To Sleep Train Your Baby Before Christmas

Sleep Training Over the Holiday Break
Christmas is right around the corner, dear readers! Of course, you probably already knew that ;) I’ll bet your local big-box stores have had their Christmas displays out for a few weeks now, right? Mine have. It seems like the Christmas season is getting earlier and earlier these days; before we know it, we’ll be seeing Christmas ads in September!

Anyway, speaking of the Christmas season, while all of us no doubt have plenty of work to do between now and Christmas (what with the baking and the decorating and the shopping), we know some of you want to utilize the next few weeks to add another task to your holiday to-do-list: sleep training! Every year, we have a number of families contact our Sleep Helpdesk in early December, eager to get started on sleep training now so that they can have sleeping babies by Christmas. (Because the holidays are so much nicer when you aren’t an exhausted, bleary-eyed, zombie, aren’t they? ;) )

And that’s what we’re talking about in today’s article. Is sleep training between now and Christmas break right idea for your family? And, if so – how should you go about doing it? Read on for details!

Should You Sleep Train Your Baby or Toddler Before the Holidays?

Before we get into the ‘hows’ of sleep training, let’s first take a look at whether or not this is a good plan for your family or not, given the realities of what your particular December will look like.

Sleep training before the holidays may be a good idea if…

  • …you can fit it into your schedule. Sleep training does require some work (on your part and on your baby’s), so if the next few weeks are jam-packed for you, consider waiting until your schedule is lighter
  • …you will be home for the next few weeks, and will not be doing any traveling. Sleep training goes best when you can do it during a time when you have at least a week (preferably 2) of consistent, normal days at home.
  • …you don’t have out-of-town visitors coming to stay between now and Christmas (or, if you do have overnight visitors, they are visitors who will accept your sleep training plans and will not criticize, hinder, or discourage you.)

Sleep training before the holidays may not be a good idea if…

  • …you know you will be too busy to devote your full energy and attention to it.
  • …you will be traveling (especially overnight traveling), or you have lots of holiday plans that will keep you away from home and will mean lots of ‘unusual’, inconsistent days.
  • …you have friends or family visiting who will not be supportive of your decision to sleep train.

How To Sleep Train Your Baby Before the Holidays

Now, as for how to work on sleep training your baby or toddler over the break: here are two options for you to explore.

If you want help with sleep training, then contact us!

We offer a fast turn-around on all of our sleep consultation packages – clients usually receive their Personalized Sleep Plan™ within 4 days of sending us their family sleep history forms. That means that if you were to purchase a consultation package within the next week, you would have your Personalized Sleep Plan™ in plenty of time to start sleep training now, and possibly have a well-rested, sleeping baby by Christmas. Just don’t wait too long to contact us; our HelpDesk will be closed for a few days during the week of Christmas (see our holiday hours here).

If you want to handle sleep training on your own, then you may want to do the following…

  • Work to establish a consistent daytime routine. This means a consistent morning wake-up time and a consistent bedtime. It also means fairly consistent nap and feeding times. Need help figuring out your ideal schedule? Check out our sample sleep and feeding schedules.
  • Decide whether you’re going to work on sleep training for naps first, or sleep training for nights, or both. You can separate out nights and naps, and just pick one to tackle at the start. That can make the process easier on everyone (particularly if you feel anxious about sleep training, or if you have a slow-to-adapt baby who is resistant to change). For more info about nap training vs. night training, read this article. For info about how nap sleep differs from night sleep, read through this article.
  • Decide on how you’re going to approach sleep training. There are lots of ways to sleep train your baby or toddler. And that’s a good thing – it allows you to choose a method that’s suited to your baby and your unique family situation and parenting preferences. Need helping selecting the best method for your family? To see a cheat sheet with 5 of the most common methods explained, click here. For a more thorough explanation of how to sleep train, check out our free guide, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, or our even more comprehensive e-book The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5 Step System To Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers).

Nicole’s Note:
“In my experience, the most important step is often the hardest and that’s taking the first step in the first place. We have two weeks before Christmas and many babies will be sleeping MUCH better by then, if you start today!”

A Few Reminders For Families Who Will Sleep Train Before Christmas

A few parting words, before we wrap up this article. First, if you’ll be sleep training in the next few weeks, remember that consistency is key. Stick with your sleep training plan for at least a week before making any changes to it. It may take a week or more for some babies to show any improvement, and toddlers may take even longer (2 or 3 weeks, perhaps). With this in mind, don’t expect lightning-fast results. You may be able to solve all your child’s sleep issues in the course of the next few weeks, but that will not be the case for every family. What you can definitely do, though, is to get a good start on sleep training, and then carry your efforts over into the new year.

So, will you be sleep training before the holiday break? If so — what’s your plan?

If sleep training is part of your holiday plans, browse these resources that are sure to help:

  • Want to work on your newborn’s sleep over the holidays? Download our free guide on newborn sleep, 15 Baby Sleep Facts New Parents Need To Know, or purchase a copy of our comprehensive e-Book on newborn sleep, 4 Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep.
  • Want to focus on naps over the break? Be sure to check out our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes and/or check out Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-to” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
  • Want Unlimited Product Access? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately!
  • Need Personalized Help? For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.
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5 Common Baby and Toddler Bedtime Mistakes You May Be Making

Common Bedtime Routine Mistakes

You probably know by now that one easy way to help maximize your little one’s sleep is to create a predictable bedtime routine. Routines help our children know what is coming next, so a bedtime routine signals to your baby or toddler that it is time to wind down, and to get sleepy. This can help greatly in getting your little one to fall asleep quickly.

However, not all routines are created equal! And if there are problems with your bedtime routine, then it may not help your baby or toddler sleep well; in fact, it may disrupt sleep and make it worse!

Are You Making These 5 Bedtime Routine Mistakes?

  1. Your bedtime ‘routine’ is not routine! Remember, the key to a bedtime routine is to follow the same predictable pattern of events before bedtime. That is what puts the ‘routine’ in bedtime routine! But if each day’s bedtime looks different, then your routine is not a routine at all, and you are missing out on the benefits that a strong routine has to offer. Focus on creating a pattern of pre-bed activities, and then make sure to follow it each night.
  2. Your bedtime routine starts too late each night. While many parents understand that the bedtime routine should contain predictable patterns of events, some miss a key element: the bedtime routine should happen at roughly the same time each night, in relation to your baby’s last nap. However, many families start the bedtime too late, pushing bedtime even later. Remember, it should take your baby roughly 10 minutes to fall asleep, so you need to lay her down ahead of time. Having your baby or toddler go to bed without being over-tired is crucial to creating a healthy sleep schedule.
  3. Your bedtime routine has too much going on. If you are trying to cram 8 different activities into your bedtime routine, you may be doing too much. Remember, babies and toddlers can quickly become over-stimulated, so if the bedtime routine is packed full of action, and if it requires you to transition between lots of different activities, your little one may actually become wound up, instead of calming down and relaxing. Instead, stick to a few simple activities at bedtime.
  4. Your bedtime routine is too long. We have already established that babies and toddlers can quickly become overstimulated; they also tend to become overtired very easily. So if your bedtime routine is too long, you can actually miss your child’s ideal sleep window, which means that by the end of the routine, your baby or toddler will be cranky and fussy, instead of sleepy and relaxed. Try to keep the activities you do right before bed (reading books, singing lullabies, snuggling, etc.) relatively short, and be sure to watch your baby’s sleep cues.
  5. Your bedtime routine is too exciting. Tickle fights, while fun, should not be part of your child’s bedtime routine. ;) Same goes for any other exciting, “let’s-get-wound-up” activity. The activities that are part of your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine should be slow and calm and soothing, so as to promote sleep.

What does your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine look like? Share the details with us below!

Need help in developing a bedtime routine, and in getting your baby or toddler to sleep through the night? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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How These Sleep Deprived Parents Kept Their Sense of Humor

iStock_000011832604XSmall

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” –Kurt Vonnegut

Readers, we are switching gears today and bringing you something a little different. Over the past few years, we have filled this blog to the brim with practical tips and suggestions about all things sleep. Here, you will find advice about encouraging better naps, solutions for nighttime waking, strategies for navigating sleep regressions, insights about managing common toddler transitions, recommended daily sleep and feeding schedules….and the list goes on.

But sometimes, in the midst of working through your baby’s nighttime waking, or your toddler’s persistent sleep problems, you just need to take a mental break. Not necessarily a break from the actual sleep training (although that’s necessary sometimes) — just a mental break. A moment to think about something besides your little one’s sleep issues. A moment to rest from the schedule-making and sleep training.

A moment to laugh, perhaps.

Well, you are in luck, readers, because today, laughs are exactly what we’re serving up! We have spent the last few months collecting funny stories and quotes from our Baby Sleep Site™ clients. These quotes are from actual parents, who are going though the same sleep-related challenges and trials that you’re working through in your own home.

While these humorous insights from other parents probably won’t do a thing to solve your child’s sleep problems, they are bound to help you remember that you are not alone in your sleep-related struggles. What’s more, they will almost certainly make you crack a smile; and that, in turn, might just make sleep training feel a little easier today. :)

Funny Quotes About Sleep Training From Sleep-Deprived Parents Just Like You!

Feel like your baby or toddler is persistent beyond belief? Like perhaps his determination to NOT sleep might qualify him for some kind of world record? This parent can sympathize:

“Is my child persistent? Yes. Like an apex predator. He will not stop. Ever.”

If sleep training sometimes feels like full-blown torture to you, guess what? You’re not the only one:

“Forget water boarding. Terrorists should be subjected to sleep training a toddler.”

We remind our clients often that personality (both theirs and their baby’s or toddler’s) plays a role in sleep training. We LOVED this parent’s explanation of her baby’s personality:

“Personality? To sum it up: If she could walk, talk, and drive, I am convinced that she would walk outside right now, get into the car, and drive herself to Las Vegas for a night on the town. She would immediately make friends on the strip, learn to play poker, win some cash, charm her way into all the night clubs, and spend the evening socializing and eating, with a few short breaks for much needed (but totally inconvenient) sleep sessions.

This is cool, but NOT for a 4 month old.”

Of course, plenty of parents adore their babies’ and toddlers’ personalities (that is, when those babies and toddlers aren’t throwing exhaustion-induced screaming fits!):

“Her sleep is the only thing we want to change in our child. Really, she’s an angel by day…but she’s the dark angel of sleep deprivation by night!” :)

Ever resorted to co-sleeping out of sheer desperation? So have many, many of our readers and clients! Of course, sometimes the “co-sleeping” turns out to look a bit different than the parents had originally intended:

“Usually, our baby sleeps in bed with us. (Our bed is a king-sized mattress on the floor). Recently, we moved ourselves into sleeping bags on the floor, next to the bed, and left our baby on the mattress. We hoped this would help her sleep better, and would keep us from waking her up. It hasn’t worked. Now, there’s nothing in the bed but her. Just a tiny baby all alone in a giant king-sized bed.”

Of course, some parents feel a bit sad about weaning their little ones off co-sleeping. But those parents are usually quick to say that they will not miss some of the “side effects” of co-sleeping:

“She is very cuddly, so I’m a bit sad about this. But I’m also ready to sleep! And maybe to not be kicked in the head so much. And to not have to keep one eye open for the nights when she turns into a lemming and tries to fling herself off the bed.”

Lots of parents rely heavily on their partners and spouses for help during the sleep training process. This can be great! But when your partner or spouse is missing-in-action at bedtime? That can be bad news:

“My husband usually carries our daughter around on his shoulder until she falls asleep. If he’s not around, we’re all doomed.”

Sometimes, though, a spouse or partner needs some sleep help themselves! That is the case for this client, who says that her husband always has something more important to do than catching up on his sleep:

“Can you include recommendations about rest for him in the sleep plan, so he’ll see that it IS important to be rested in order to properly implement sleep training? I may have to resort to drugging him otherwise…”

It’s no secret that sleep training takes a toll on poor mom and dad, right? The constant sleep deprivation and nighttime waking can make even the most optimistic parents begin to despair:

“I used to be a bright, happy person who took care of herself and went to the gym at least 5 days a week. Now, I’m in a constant mental fog. I have no energy and feel accomplished if I manage to shower and put on a clean t-shirt or a fresh pair of yoga pants. Honestly, you’d think I do a lot of working out for all the workout clothes I wear.”

Chronic exhaustion can also drive parents to try some downright crazy pre-bedtime rituals:

“After we put our daughter in her crib, we make a farting noise at her. For some reason, she loves that noise!”

And let’s be honest – sleep-deprivation can turn even the sweetest mommies into something else entirely:

“I am an insufferable b*#%@ when I don’t get enough rest.”

There you have it, moms and dads – further proof that you are not alone! (And that it is possible to keep your sense of humor while sleep training your baby or toddler! ;))

Any funny stories about sleep training you’d like to share with us? Leave them in the comments section; if we get enough, we’ll do another ‘funny quotes’ article!

Ready to have some funny sleep-training stories of your own? We can help you get started! Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Why Consistency Is So Important During Sleep Training

Consistency-Sleep-Training

Based on lots and lots of experience in working with parents over the years, we here at The Baby Sleep Site™ have found something to be true: when used with consistency, the right sleep training method can work wonders for a baby’s nighttime sleep problems, or a toddler’s persistent sleep issues. The two key words in that statement? ‘Consistency’ and ‘Right’.

Finding the Right Sleep Training Method

It’s important that you find a sleep training method that works for both you and your baby. Not every sleep training technique works for every baby, or for every parent. The Pick-Up-Put-Down (PUPD) method advocated by Tracy Hogg, for instance (a method in which you pick up your baby when she’s fussy and put her back in her crib to sleep when she’s calm), works well for some babies. Others, however, get totally overstimulated by being picked up so often, and end up becoming increasingly upset.

Or take some of the cry-it-out methods. Some parents report that cry-it-out techniques helped their babies overcome their sleep problems in a matter of days. But other parents have let us know that cry-it-out methods simply do.not.work with their little ones. What’s more, some parents feel uncomfortable using cry-it-out techniques. In those cases, cry-it-out is not a technique that will work for their babies, since it’s not a technique that works for them as parents.

The right sleep training technique is one that works for both your baby and for you and is one that you can commit to doing. This means that, when considering sleep training techniques, you’ll need to take into account both your baby’s temperament and personality, as well as your own parenting philosophy.

Remaining Consistent in Sleep Training

If it’s important to find the right sleep training method for your baby, then it’s downright critical to remain consistent in your sleep training. This is so key, but it’s something that a lot of parents struggle with.

And that’s understandable. Some sleep training techniques require a lot of patience and a lot of time before they start to produce results. The fading method, for example (in which you slowly do less and less of the “work” to put your child to sleep, and your child does more and more) can take awhile to start working, and it demands a lot of patience on the part of parents. In cases like this, it can feel hard (or maybe impossible) to stay the course and remain consistent.

Other parents find it hard to stay consistent because of the way their babies or toddlers react to sleep training. Most of you know this first-hand by now, but it’s worth emphasizing: sleep training will almost always involve at least a little bit of crying. It doesn’t have to be full-blown cry-it-out, by any means, but even the gentlest techniques often involve a minimal amount of crying. And since no parent enjoys the sound of their child in distress, it can feel excruciating to remain consistent while your child fusses or cries.

But here’s the thing: sleep training won’t work unless you’re consistent. This goes for other aspects of parenting too, doesn’t it? Like discipline, for example. Let’s say you’re trying to teach your baby not to touch electrical cords (a very wise thing to teach!) Imagine if you spent three days strictly enforcing your new “don’t touch electrical cords” rule, only to give up on day four and not say a thing when your baby grabs the lamp cord with both hands and starts tugging. This is confusing for your baby; why was it wrong one day but fine the next? As a result of this mixed message, he won’t learn the “don’t touch electrical cords” lesson nearly as quickly as he would if you’d been consistent in enforcing the rule.

The same is true for sleep training. For instance, lets say you’ve been rocking your baby to sleep for months now, but want to wean her from that sleep association. For the first three days, you rock her for a few minutes before naps and bed, but then put her in her crib while she’s still drowsy but awake. This is a great start! But if you give up on day four, and rock her straight to sleep for naps and bed, you’re sending your baby a confusing mixed message. This kind of inconsistency will totally set you back in your efforts to help her learn to sleep through the night.

Why Is Consistency So Important During Sleep Training?

Why is consistency so key? Because people (both children and adults) need plenty of time and space to practice a new skill. And in many ways, that’s what sleeping through the night is for your baby or toddler – a new skill. Think about the times you’ve had to learn something new. You probably made lots of mistakes in the beginning, and felt frustrated. But over time, you figured it out. Now imagine if, just a few hours or days into your learning process, someone had stepped in and taken over, and started doing for you the very thing you were learning to do yourself.

It reminds me of a time in college, when a friend of mine was learning to drive her new car. It had a manual transmission, and she had only ever driven an automatic. A well-meaning mutual friend took her out for a lesson, but after a few hours, he couldn’t handle it anymore! The grinding of the gears, the stalling out on hills…finally, he made her pull over so he could drive the car back to campus himself.

In our sleep training analogy, my friend’s driving instructor was like the parent who gets overwhelmed with sleep training, finally saying, “I’ll just take care of this myself” and rocking the baby to sleep. It’s an understandable reaction (no one likes the sound of a fussy baby, just as no one likes the sounds of grinding car gears!), but ultimately, in both scenarios, no one learned anything new. My friend couldn’t learn to drive her new car unless she had the time and space to practice; your baby can’t learn to sleep through the night unless he the same.

So think about it this way: when you’re consistent in your sleep training, you’re giving your baby time and space to practice a new skill. The learning process may not be easy; it may involve some crying, and it may take longer than you’d like. But this is how learning often works.

When ‘Right’ and ‘Consistent’ Collide

Here’s the tricky part: ‘finding the right method’ and ‘staying consistent’ might seem to conflict with each other sometimes. For example, let’s say that you’re a few days into trying a new sleep training technique, and it doesn’t seem to be working at all. Your baby is fussy and cranky, she’s not sleeping any better than she was before you started, and you’re at the end of your rope. And you find yourself faced with a dilemma:

“Maybe this method isn’t right for her? Should I give up and try something else? But then again, maybe I need to give it a few more days…I don’t want to be inconsistent…ACK! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”

This is so, so normal. Here’s our advice: if you’re trying a new sleep training technique, stick with it for at least one whole week. (If you’re sleep training a toddler, you may need to give it two or three weeks). If, at the end of the week, your little one has shown absolutely zero improvement, and is resisting your efforts in a big way, then you can consider trying something new.

Many of us know first-hand how hard consistency during sleep training can be, don’t we? Share your sleep training story with us, and let us know how you managed to stay consistent even when it was tough.

If you need some help and guidance in sleep coaching your little one, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Is Sleep Training Cruel? The Mommy Wars Continue…

SleepyBabyI received an e-mail from a client upset about this article expressing frustration about the difference between “cuddlers” and “tamers.” In the article, Pinky berates the “tamers” for treating their babies like objects and having expectations that are too high. The tone of the article implies that it’s cruel to help your baby learn to sleep that involves any crying. She is clearly exasperated at receiving e-mails from parents at the end of their rope/tether, looking for “quick fixes.”

So, how do you handle the judgmental tone of those around you unable to understand why you are sleep training your baby?

While Pinky did explain later why she “flipped her lid”, the damage was done with the judgmental tone of the first article. In the end, some of us/you are still considered “tamers” rather than “cuddlers.” And, it’s still assumed that if you employ certain sleep training techniques with your baby, it says a lot about your character and how you may treat your teenager (even implying you may kick him out of the house one day!).

What is a mom or dad to do when your decision now could be speaking about your character even 15 years from now, according to other people? The pressure is insurmountable! That reminds me of that one person who said cry-it-out would lead to Prozac. **groan**

First, recognize that just because another mom feels parents can be divided into one group or another, that does NOT mean you need to be a part of either of said groups. I, for one, am a big-time cuddler (and I cuddle with my boys who are 5 and 7 years old every night still) and we are very affectionate and a close family all around, but that doesn’t mean I accepted the sleep deprivation as “normal” and one that my son would outgrow. Don’t let someone else lump you into an arbitrary group meant to divide rather than join us together as moms. The mommy wars rage on as to whose “way” is better, which really doesn’t do any one any good.

While there are certain things babies need to outgrow such as being able to go 12 hours without eating, there are other things that boil down to habits and what we teach them. No one would suggest that a child “outgrows” being rude at the dinner table or not using their manners. We teach them the “rules.” So, if your 2 or 3 year old is still expecting milk or food at night, perhaps you simply haven’t taught her the rule that you eat in the morning at breakfast, not in the middle of the night, eh? Or, perhaps your 12 month old waking up for the 10th time for you to grab the pacifier that is right next to him needs to learn how to maneuver the pacifier himself (or learn to sleep without it). And, maybe a 6 month old actually can learn to nap in his crib rather than your arms 3-4 times a day with some direction from you. What if you could get him to do it just once a day and actually get something done during the day?

There is an assumption that crying always means a baby needs something. That isn’t always the case! A baby can’t say “Moooooom! I dropped my pacifier AGAIN! Can you get it for me? I’m really tired and all I want to do is go back to sleep. Don’t you??” If a 3 year old kept calling Mom back to help him tuck in the covers, perhaps his mom would teach him how to tuck himself in. They could practice during the day and everything. You can actually teach him about the expectations for sleep rather than expect him to figure it out “one day” when he’s 5 or even later. Sometimes our babies or toddlers cry out of frustration or as an emotional release and we need to give them the space to do that rather than rush to “fix” it.

A week or two ago, I saw this on Facebook from Dr. Kaylene Henderson of Little Children Big Dreams and thought it was very fitting.

Is Sleep Training Cruel?

This is important, because while some babies truly lack self-soothing abilities and physically can’t find any other way than sucking on a pacifier or bottle, being swaddled, or breastfeeding, for example, as your baby gets older, these become habits and preferences. Yes, maybe falling asleep will be harder, at first, without a sleep “prop” but that doesn’t mean your baby can’t do it! I recently had to explain to my son that some of the best things in life are harder to come by, after all. And, yes, your baby may have moments of frustration. But, just as I’ve explained before, crying is sometimes a part of changing sleep habits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be right there with moral support and guide your baby through the change in routine. You can even practice Attachment Parenting and Sleep Train. And, if it’s not going well, you can even take a break and wait until he’s a little older. The pace and the process is up to you and it’s not a race to the finish, but rather, finding that unique process that is right for you and your family.

As I always say, NOBODY is walking in your shoes or living what you live day in and day out. Yes, some people would have said I was mean for sleep training my son, but he was MISERABLE without sleep and so were all of us! If he was at least happy through it all, maybe I could have held on longer, I don’t know. I don’t regret our experience for a second. He needed sleep. Period. I needed sleep to be the mom he needed. Oh the patience, energy, and focus I had as a mom when I got more than 2 hours of broken sleep! If others can tolerate and even flourish on less sleep, more power to you! But, try not to judge others for something you can’t understand.

There will be parents every day at the end of their rope. These parents are frazzled and trying to function on less sleep than THEIR mind and bodies need to perform well. We may not always understand the decisions that other parents make, but remember that all babies are very different and their temperament and personality will be a HUGE variable among many families. I’ve had families contact me with their third child when they thought they had it all figured out. It’s not simple or straightforward at all. And, if you have one of these more challenging babies, take heart that you are NOT alone. The more than 400,000 monthly visitors (and growing) to The Baby Sleep Site tell you that you aren’t the only one trying to help your baby sleep, with and without a lot of tears. ;)

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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When Is It Too Late To Sleep Train?

When Is It Too Late To Sleep Train?
 
Often, exhausted parents contact the Baby Sleep Site® and share some variation of this story:

“My son/daughter has always been a terrible sleeper. I kept hoping he/she would grow out of it, and that the sleep issues would resolve on their own. Now, he/she is getting older, and the problems are only getting worse. But he/she isn’t a baby anymore; is it too late to sleep train?”

And that’s the question we’re tackling today, readers: When Is It Too Late to Sleep Train?

Is It Ever Too Late To Sleep Train?

Good news — the answer is no, it’s not! There’s no expiration date when it comes to sleep training.

Remember, sleep training is simply the practice of teaching your baby to fall asleep on his own, without help from you. It’s helping your baby or toddler break her sleep associations.

Remember too that for many parents, sleep training is a big step towards helping their baby or toddler build healthy sleep habits. And we can’t overemphasize the importance of healthy sleep habits! Chronic sleep deprivation in children can lead to obesity, learning issues, behavior problems, and even depression. And chronic sleep deprivation’s no picnic for adults, either — it can lead to a host of health issues and mental problems.

So if your little one is a terrible sleeper, and you’re getting the sense that it’s time to tackle the problem, don’t worry that it’s too late. Even if you’re worried that you’ve missed the “ideal” sleep training window, don’t let that stop you. It’s never too late to help your baby or toddler learn to sleep soundly!

Nicole’s Note:
“Quite simply, sleep training is the practice of teaching healthy sleep habits much like you teach healthy eating habits and everyone can agree it’s never too late to change bad habits into good ones! We work with children of all ages and even some 2-3 year olds who never had sleep problems need help with healthy sleep habits and new routines. It is never ever too late to make changes for the better. Even adults need to do that from time to time!”

Sleep Training: Naps vs. Nights

An aside — often, when parents talk about sleep training, they’re talking about nighttime sleep training. That, after all, is the killer for most families — the endless, middle-of-the-night wakings. But, sleep training applies to naps as well. If your baby or toddler is sleeping relatively well at night but suffers from terrible (or maybe even non-existent) naps, you can utilize sleep training to make those naps more restful. Naps may be different than nighttime sleep, and may present more challenges, but babies and toddlers truly can learn to take good naps, just like they can learn to sleep through the night.

Nicole’s Note:
“Children nap until between 3 and 4 years old and sometimes beyond. Holding your baby for naps at 10 months old is very different than a 2 year old (if you can get them to stop playing long enough to lay in your arms)! So, of course, it’s best to establish healthy nap habits as well as nighttime sleep habits.”

When Should I Start Sleep Training?

It may never be “too late” to start sleep training, but that doesn’t mean that some times aren’t better than others for sleep training. We’ll discuss good times to sleep train in just a moment, but use this as your guiding principle in determining when to sleep train: the longer you wait, the harder sleep training (usually) is on everyone. That’s simply because deeply ingrained habits take longer to break, and the habit-breaking process is more difficult. Ask anyone who has tried to change their eating habits or quit smoking.

Of course, every family is different, and not all babies (okay, few babies!) follow our nice, neat little plans. ;) Remember, you know your baby best; if your situation simply demands that you delay sleep training for awhile, then so be it!

That said, let’s look at some good (and some not-so-good) times for sleep training to happen.

Good times for sleep training include:

  • The 4-7 month window. This is the earliest that parents should start any kind of formal sleep training; it’s also the best time to start, for many families (although not all). Why? Because at this point, your baby is past the 4 month sleep regression, so she’s starting to develop more “adult” sleep patterns. Your baby is also much less mobile at this stage than she’ll be in a few more months, and that lack of mobility makes sleep training a bit easier. Finally, because your baby is still quite young at this point, any sleep associations she may have formed won’t have had time to turn into strong habits. That means they’ll be easier to change.
  • The 11-16 month window. This isn’t as ideal a time to sleep train as the 4-7 month window, but if you skip that one, this is the next one to try. Why? Because you’re baby is past the sleep regression that happens at 8/9/10 months, and her sleep patterns should be back to normal. (Although if your baby has never been a great sleeper, her “normal” sleep patterns may be fairly crazy!) Remember, it’s best to sleep train when things are as normal as possible, so waiting until a sleep regression has passed can be a good idea.

More challenging times for sleep training include:

  • Before 4 months. We don’t recommend that parents start any formal sleep training before a baby is 4 months old. Why? Because before the 4 month mark, a baby has newborn sleep patterns, and it’s best to wait until your baby has developed more adult sleep patterns before you sleep train. It certainly doesn’t hurt to put your baby down for a nap awake if she lets you, but real sleep training needs to wait until your baby’s a bit older. For advice on how to get help your baby sleep well in those early, newborn months, check out our this article on tips to help your newborn sleep.
  • The 8-10 month window. There’s a sleep regression that can happen right around this time, and it can be a doozie. Between 8 and 10 months, a baby’s mobility is just exploding. They’re learning to crawl, learning to stand, learning to cruise…some are even walking! This new-found mobility is exciting, but it definitely can be disruptive for sleep. So if you haven’t done any sleep training before 8 months, it may be challenging to obtain “perfect” sleep, while your baby gets through this regression. That’s not to say you can’t sleep train during these few months, of course; it’s just that things might be a little tougher and you may need to have lower expectations about what “success” will look like.
  • After 18 months. Let’s be clear — you CAN sleep train your toddler after he’s 18 months old. It’s definitely possible. Our many clients will testify to that! But sleep training a toddler who’s 18 months or older can be tough. Very tough in some cases. By 18 months, your toddler’s sleep associations have become strong, deeply ingrained habits that can be difficult to break. And as he gets closer to those Terrible Two’s, his will is getting stronger and stronger, too. That means you’ll have the added challenge of trying to make your persistent toddler do something he doesn’t want to do. No easy task!

Nicole’s Note:
“Although there are more ‘ideal’ times to sleep train than others such as before your baby can pull up and stand at the side of the crib, if you and your family are ready to make big changes, I wouldn’t wait just because of your baby or toddler’s age. Every baby is different and you know your baby best. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it can work! There is always a reason to put off making positive changes in your life whether it’s delaying a diet, because the holidays are near or work is too busy or you put off budgeting because you have too many bills, you can always find a reason to avoid the hard work that sleep training sometimes entails. The first step is the hardest, but I find families are happily surprised when their child adapts to the new routines faster than they anticipated. Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)”

Ready to ‘Seize the Day’ and start working on your baby or toddler’s sleep problems? It’s not too late! You can connect with a sleep consultant today and start your journey to better sleep tonight. To start, browse our list of consultation packages and decide which one is the best fit for your unique situation.

Click here to see our list of e-mail and phone consultation packages.

Click here to take a look at our consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep! It’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

When did you decide to sleep train and how did it go? Was it the “right” time?

  • You don’t necessarily need a sleep consultant’s help to work on your baby or toddler’s sleep – you can tackle it on your own, too! If you feel ready to try sleep training, but want to read up first, why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep. Or, if you have a toddler at home, try our 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books are available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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Should You Let Your Baby Cry It Out?

When parents contact the Baby Sleep Site for the first time, they often say the same thing: “Are you going to tell me I have to let my baby cry? Because I can’t handle that!”

No parent enjoys the sound of their baby wailing in distress.

That’s why the cry-it-out methods advocated by Ferber, Weissbluth, and Ezzo are so controversial. Some parents feel like cry-it-out is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, but others are quick to point out that cry-it-out methods are fast and effective ways to teach a baby to sleep.

Not too long ago, an article in Psychology Today discussed the “dangers” of cry it out and yet another article even suggested that cry-it-out methods might be the cause of our “Prozac Nation.”

It remains debatable whether or not cry-it-out methods actually damage a child. After all, people often mean very different things when they use the phrase “cry it out” and what affects one child will not affect another the same way (just like Nicole’s life experiences affected her a certain way in the above article). And let’s remember that the side-effects of sleeplessness for children (obesity , depression, behavior problems, and even drug and alcohol problems, as well as a number of others) can be pretty serious. But even if using a cry-it-out method doesn’t damage your little one, should you do it?

What Does Cry-It-Out Mean, Exactly?

In any discussion of cry-it-out, it’s important to make sure everyone’s operating with the same definition. There are a lot of things that we believe cry-it-out is NOT; there are two things we believe that it IS. At The Baby Sleep Site, we use cry-it-out to mean a sleep training method that is used to change sleep associations and to help parents set limits as to what they will and will not “do” in the name of sleep.

Does Cry-It-Out Actually Work?

It might seem counterintuitive to think that crying can lead to a baby sleeping peacefully for hours on end. The thing is, though, it can, for some babies. Remember that falling asleep is a skill that a baby has to learn, and anytime a person (young or old) has to learn a new skill, there are bound to be some mistakes made. Some falling down. Some crying. As Nicole says,

“It is difficult to convince your baby that she can sleep on her own without some crying, just like it’s difficult to learn to ride a bike without falling.”

Some Parents Reject Cry-It-Out Due To Fear or Misconceptions

Some parents understand all the ins and outs of cry-it-out methods and still reject them. And that’s fine, of course. To each her own! However, other parents have fears or misconceptions that cause them to avoid any cry-it-out methods:

  • Some parents fear cry-it-out means that they have to let their child scream for 8 straight hours and turn 12 shades of purple before offering them any comfort. Not so! Remember, there are lots of steps in between rocking your baby all night long and letting her wail for hours.
  • Other parents worry that cry-it-out might change their child’s personality, turning their sweet, smiling baby into a screaming, shrieking one. But remember that your child’s temperament is as unique as he is, and it’s highly unlikely that any sleep training method is going to change that. That said, if you have a cranky, fussy, inconsolable baby on your hands, and that fussiness is due to chronic sleep deprivation, then cry-it-out may just change your baby’s personality — for the better! Once he starts getting the sleep he needs, don’t be surprised if that constant fussiness disappears.
  • Some parents are concerned that using a cry-it-out method will destroy their child’s trust in them. This is an understandable fear; when you’re listening to your child cry, it’s easy worry that she feels neglected. But this kind of thinking puts a LOT of pressure on you! After all, you can make yourself crazy if you operate with the mindset that any one thing you do (or don’t do, for that matter) could potentially damage your child FOREVER.

There’s No Formula for Parenting

When you’re sleep training (whether you’re using a cry-it-out methods or not), it’s easy to lose perspective. It’s easy to feel like letting your baby cry for a few minutes will cause serious damage.

That’s why it’s so important to remember that the parent-child relationship is a complex one, made up of many elements. There’s no ONE thing that can destroy that entire relationship. As Nicole says,

“There is not ONE thing (except possibly the purely heinous,like sexual abuse) that will violate his trust in you. If that were the case, the ONE time you didn’t catch him when he was learning to walk and bumped his head would cause him not to trust you anymore. The ONE time you were late changing his diaper and he was cold and crying and you didn’t know would cause harm to him. It is all the love, affection, and care you give him all day, day-in and day-out, that builds the relationship between mother/father and child.”

Some Parents Still Feel Cry-It-Out Isn’t For Them — And That’s Fine

The purpose of this article isn’t to persuade you to use a cry-it-out approach to sleep training. We don’t push cry-it-out methods over other approaches to sleep training, and we certainly won’t try to persuade you to use a method you’re not comfortable with. Whatever sleep training method you choose, remember that it has to work for everyone involved — for your child, and for YOU.

The Baby Sleep Site strives to remain judgment-free and to respect every parent’s unique philosophy, so if you just aren’t comfortable with any of the cry-it-out methods, that’s okay! There are plenty of other ways to teach your little one to sleep well, including some no-cry sleep training options. They might just require a little more patience on your part.

We always start our sleep consultations with a no-cry approach (unless a parent requests that we begin with a cry-it-out method). What’s more, we’ve had great success working with parents who have an attachment parenting philosophy, parents who are co-sleepers, and parents who simply want to minimize crying as much as possible. Be sure to check our our testimonials page to learn more about the variety of families we’ve helped in their journeys to better sleep.

Nicole’s Note
“I just saw a Facebook update from this mom, Najmi, whose now 6 1/2 year old looks forward to the weekend, so she can sleep in! If only we were all so lucky. Najmi was so petrified of CIO, but it was a life-changing decision she made. Cry it out is definitely not for every situation, but the pressure parents put on themselves to not allow ANY crying can sometimes do more harm. It’s about finding the right solution for your specific situation.”

What about you? Cry-It-Out? No-Cry? Share your opinions!

If you’re looking for ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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